Centre discloses eight names in black money case to Supreme Court

Centre discloses eight names in black money case to Supreme Court

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, October 27, 2014

The Union Government today filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court in which it has disclosed eight names -- seven individuals and a company -- with foreign bank accounts from a much larger list it has received as part of investigations into wealth allegedly stashed outside the country by tax evaders and others.
The three accounts are those of Pradeep Burman, a former top executive of the Dabur Group, Timblo Private Limited, a Goa-based mining company, five of its directors and Pankaj Chimanlal Lodhiya, a bullion trader based in Rajkot, Gujarat.
The five directors of the Timblo Group named in the affiidavit are Radha Satish Timblo, Chetan S Timblo, Rohan S Timblo, Anna C Timblo and Mallika R Timblo.
Reacting to the disclosure, the Dabur Group clarified that Mr Burman does not hold any executive position in the company.
“The Burman family is committed to the highest standards of corporate governance, and encourage ethical behaviour at all levels," a spokesperson for the group said.
"We wish to state that this account was opened when he was an NRI, and was legally allowed to open this account. We have followed all the laws and the complete details regarding the account have been voluntarily, and as per law, filed with the Income Tax Department, and appropriate taxes paid, wherever applicable. 
"Therefore, it is unfortunate that every person having a foreign bank account is being painted with the same brush," he added.
Mr Lodhiya also told journalists who approached him outside his shop in Rajkot said that he had no foreign bank account at all and had no clue about how his name had appeared on the list.
He said that Income Tax authorities had conducted a search at his firm about 18 months ago when he had furnished all the details of all his business transactions to them.
In Margao, Ms Radha Timblo said that the company would make a detailed statement after she had seen the affidavit by the government. She also said that the tax authorities had conducted searches at the company in the past.
The Centre had told the Supreme Court recently that, under the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs) signed by it with various countries,  it could not disclose all the names on the list until charges are framed against them in court.
In its affidavit, the Government told the court today there was absolutely no intention on its part to withhold information, including names of persons who have stashed black money abroad.
"...the Government is committed to disclose names of persons holding illegal money abroad. However, every account held by an Indian in a foreign country may not be illegal...," it said.
The government submitted that it was making all efforts to obtain informaiton about Indians hiding their unaccounted money in offshore financial centres. It said these efforts include entering into new treaties and agreements as per the new global standards on automatic exchange of information.
It said that, for signing such agreements, India would have to make a commitment that such information can be used only for tax purposes and will be made public only when the investigation is complete and a complaint/prosecution is filed in a competent court for tax evasion.
"It is respectfully submitted that the choice, therefore, is either not to receive information at all, or receive it and use it as per international standards of confidentiality. It is respectfully submitted that these international standards do allow disclosure of names and information, but only after investigations are completed, when there is a prima facie case of wrongdoing and a complaint/prosecution is filed in a competent court for tax evasion," it said.
The government said serious efforts were being made to complete investigations at the earliest by the tax department and file complaints/prosecutions in appropriate cases expeditiously, upon which the names of the tax evaders will be made public.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has attracted a lot of criticism from the opposition Congress and other parties which accused it of going back on its election promise of bringing back black money from abroad within 100 days of assuming office.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said in a television interview that the government would disclose some names to the Supreme Court soon and that the disclosure would embarrass the Congress. To this, the Congress had asked the BJP to desist from "blackmail" and disclose all the names.
Mr Jaitley also indicated in another interview that the name of a senior Congress leader was on that list and that the person could be a former UPA Minister. "I am not denying or confirming it, I am only smiling," he had said in that interview.
In response, Mr Jaitley's predecessor P Chidambaram had told a television channel that if it turns out that a senior Congress leader's name is on the list of those with illegal wealth stashed abroad, it would basically embarass that person and not the party.
"I don't expect Mr Arun Jaitley to make a trivial comment. He's the Finance Minister of India. He's not likely to make a trivial comment, but I think the purpose of that comment was to move from black money to what a friend of mine said, blackmail," he said.
"Release it, why say it? Why this promotion?...just release the name," he had said.

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